The Nature of Symbolic Language

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The Nature of Symbolic Language

In his essay Erich Fromm explores the very way in which we share personal experiences with each other through language. He makes clear distinctions between the three types of symbolic language, conventional, accidental, and universal, and he uses these distinctions to explain the reality behind an important part of our lives we don’t even think about. Fromm purposely uses language that makes his thoughts easier to understand which adds depth to his writing and also supports his purpose for writing the essay.

Fromm’s purpose in the essay is simple and purposely blatantly obvious; he simply wants the reader to think about the importance of symbolic language and understand it. At the beginning of his essay when he is explaining conventional symbolism and using the word table and the thing table as an example he brings up the importance of conventional symbolism without even directly stating it. To be able to say one short five letter word of abstract creation and have it refer to something tangible is an amazing thing yet most people don’t even think about it or realize its importance. This idea suggested by Fromm, yet not directly addressed, by itself causes another idea, once again not directly addressed by Fromm, to surface in the mind of the reader; the idea behind the importance of names and labels. The way Fromm explains the three types of symbolism also demonstrates their meaning. By naming the three different types of symbolism he ties them together by conventional symbolism, the fact that he ties abstract ideas with themselves makes it even more thought provoking. When he describes accidental symbolism he once again implies but does not explore the importance of this particular form of symbolism. Without accidental symbolism we would be unable to describe feelings or experiences adequately. When Fromm finally gets to universal symbolism things get distorted, which is a break from his normal clear and solid way of...
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